We can’t help it, apparently – newsies can’t start a new year without pausing to analyze the old one, picking over its bones for trends and top-10 lists and anything else that can be turned into copy in the usually slow news weeks at the top of the calendar.
Of course, here in the Fort one of the biggest stories of 2009 was the infamous raid last summer by Fort Worth police and agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission at The Rainbow Lounge, where gays were arrested seemingly without cause and after which one guy spent a week in the hospital with a head injury. The worldwide attention from the raid was a public relations disaster to Cowtown, but the positive changes for gay Fort Worth in the following months were substantial.
Because of that, the gay newspaper Dallas Voice awarded its inaugural Person of the Year award for 2009 to Fort Worth’s own Todd Camp. The former Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter and current artistic director for the film festival Q Cinema (now in its 10th year) was at the Rainbow Lounge that night and worked quickly to get the word out about what actually happened.
“With all he is involved with, when people talk about 2009, Camp will probably most be associated with his role in the Rainbow Lounge raid and its political aftermath, which led to reforms in the police department and the dismissal of certain officials involved in the raid – all of which can be traced, directly or indirectly, to Camp,” the Voice wrote.
Camp told Static he was “completely shocked and generally touched. But what we did was not a one-man show. We had so many players behind the scenes.”
In the days and weeks following the raid, Camp, 42, found himself as the media spokesperson for just about everything Rainbow Lounge-related. It was an unusual time for the former reporter, being the interviewee rather than the interviewer. “I hated getting interviewed, but we needed to get the truth out,” said the man dubbed the Unofficial Mayor of Gay Fort Worth. “But I did learn more about how the media worked in those few months than I did in my 18 years at the Star-Telegram.”
Static applauds the Dallas Voice for giving Camp this award. He has worked tirelessly on Q Cinema through the years, and he applied that same approach to making sure that some good things came out of that one strange night at a bar. The Weekly doesn’t do Person of the Year, but we’re happy to invent the Rainbow Ruckus-Raiser prize just for him.